20 December 2007

13 Ways to Help

For many people, the impending end of the calendar year is impetus to take out the checkbook and give to charity - to get that deduction into this tax year. And it dovetails nicely with the coincident spirit of giving that surrounds Christmas and Hanukkah (and Kwanzaa, though I'm not much of an expert there).

Need inspiration? Here are thirteen ideas:

1. Last week, Oh The Joys wrote about visiting New Orleans, and about how one could help rebuild the Singleton Elementary School's library. It's easy - buy a book via their Amazon wishlist - it'll get mailed directly to the school. Books for kids - what could be better?

2. A whole mess of food bloggers are having a fundraiser for the UN World Food Programme - with a twist. For every $10 you donate to Menu For Hope, you get a virtual raffle ticket toward your choice of prize.

3. Instead of a donation, make a microloan. For small businesses in developing countries, a loan of $25 or $100 can be a real help in getting going and reaching sustainability. There are a handful of "banks" out there connecting lenders and borrowers - one that I've participated with is Kiva.

4. Your local food bank could probably use help - this article from the New York Times explains why. Do you have non-perishable food items that you could spare? Or give them a check and let them put it to the best use.

5. Last spring I wrote about two healthcare organizations in Africa, both tending to mothers with a childbirth injury called obstetric fistula - the Edna Hospital in Somalia and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. They both have US based non-profit organizations, so your contributions are tax deductible.

6. DonorsChoose lets you direct your contribution very specifically - to a classroom project of a teacher's devising. I've contributed to two: "Dance Classroom Needs Ballet Barres" and "Building Self Esteem Through Music and Movement". Poke around, you might find something that pushes your buttons.

7. Cancer feels omnipresent these days - despite Richard Nixon's 1971 declaration of war on cancer. This year, I've given to the American Cancer Society (by sponsoring my sister at her local Relay for Life, and by donating old clothes to my local thrift shop), to the Pan-Mass Challenge, to Susan J. Komen For The Cure (supporting WhyMommy's walkathon), and to Joan's Legacy. Likely you know someone with cancer - maybe a donation to a cancer support or cancer research organization is the one for you.

8. Schools are an easy one. I give to my college every year, because I'm a happy alumna. I also support my child's non-profit daycare, because they do a wonderful job taking care of and teaching my child.

9. Since moving to the suburbs a few years ago, I've been spending a little more time in the car. Also, we finally got our clock radio fixed. All of this means that we listen to the radio more than we used to. So I've started donating to the local public radio station. Mine's WNYC. But yours probably needs support too.

10. Doctors without Borders does a great job of providing medical care to people who need it - often in war-torn, famine-struck countries.

11. If you want a bit of whimsy with your contribution, give someone a goat! Heifer International takes care of the actual goat procurement, but you get to sleep better at night knowing that some family has a goat because of you.

12. Planned Parenthood is a really good organization, doing really important work. Lots of people have a knee-jerk reaction that Planned Parenthood is all about abortions. In fact, if their family planning and women's health care services weren't around, there'd be a lot more abortions. Bitch PhD says it better than I can - be sure to read her post. If you'd rather help pregnant women, an article in the Times last month profiled the San Francisco Homeless Prenatal Program.

13. Last but not least, look around at your local community. Before the year is out, I'll likely send a check to the local volunteer ambulance corps (with fingers crossed that I'll never need them), the local volunteer fire department (ditto) and the nearby hospital (where a kindly postpartum nurse gave me spare parts for my Medela pump at 8:00 on a Saturday morning right after we moved in and I'd had an accident with the kitchen sink - and, no, I hadn't given birth there).

Okay, open your checkbooks!

justpostdec2007

27 comments:

Bloggers said...

Those are great!! I am saving this for later.

My 13 is upWorking at HOme MOm
Happy Holidays!

thirtysomething said...

Great tips. Thanks!

Kat said...

Those are all great things to do. I will have to check them all out! Happy TT

http://katskrackerbox.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/thursday-thirteen-21-13-things-i-love-about-christmas/

ozma said...

I have nothing important to say but THIS POST IS AWESOME. I want to say 'the reason for the season' in some ironic voice but if I just say it you won't realize I'm using my ironic voice.

These are such good things ya picked here, really.

Julie Pippert said...

This is FANTASTIC!

Julie
Using My Words

Mad Hatter said...

Magpie, you rock. I loaned some money to Kiva a year ago. I love it that I regularly get emails telling the progress that the recipients are making. I also love that I was able to choose which people/projects I specifically wanted to loan to.

I also like to support Planned Parenthood.

Mad Hatter said...

And do I detect a Wallace Stevens allusion in your title?

Jen M. said...

This list ROCKS! Thanks!

Her Grace said...

Great post! I'm going to bookmark it for year round giving.

Who She She said...

Thanks!

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

I've already done my giving to charities this year. Even more than I had intended. There is just so much need, one just needs to look around. Have a great TT. :)

Mayberry said...

Wonderful list! I pledged earlier this year to earmark all my BlogHer ads earnings to DonorsChoose. Bring on the pageviews ... it's for the teachers!

Jessica said...

What an awesome list. Thank you for putting it together.

melissa said...

This is the best list I've seen today. Thanks for the great ideas!

MadMad said...

I love coming here because you simplify my life - these are great!

Nicholas said...

Very good list. I'm glad to say we've given to a couple of those in the past.

jen said...

fab-u-lous.

WorksForMom said...

You RAWK Magpie. Excellent list.

Danielle said...

That's a wonderful list! Donor's Choose is one of my favorites.

Happy Holidays

Aliki2006 said...

This is great! Thanks SO much for compiling this list--it's critical at a time like this...

Oh, The Joys said...

Thank you!!

Teryn said...

Such great ideas! I'm trying some donation-gifts this year, and I'd love to do more.

susiej.com said...

Thanks for opening our eyes!

Janet said...

Awesome ideas! Thanks for sharing.

KC said...

Great post. Great causes.

Julia said...

Thanks for the reminders!

There are also charity concerts this time of year. My synagogue is doing one every year on Christmas eve with a local chorale. The tickets are on the expensive side, but everything goes to a good cause, so it works for me.

painted maypole said...

great list!

merry Christmas!